Food Tour

About halfway through my visit to Binghamton last weekend, after I’d posted a check-in at the Cider Mill, my friend Deb asked on Facebook if I was having a food tour through the northeast. Looking at my page, I can see how she would have come to that conclusion; while not everything I posted while I was home was eating-centric, most of it was. If it’s possible to be considered nostalgic about food, I most certainly am. Every trip back to New York – whether Binghamton or Albany – is organized around making sure I can eat all the things I love. Fortunately, my family and friends don’t seem to mind this quirk of mine. (And, in fact, my sister Eileen shares this trait, so when we’re together at home, as we were this time, I have a partner in crime. My scale tells me this might not be a good thing.)

Manhattan clam chowder and Sam Adams summer ale at Saratoga.
Manhattan clam chowder and Sam Adams summer ale at Saratoga.

I started off this most recent dining extravaganza at a place I love – Saratoga Race Track, where we went pretty much every summer of my life growing up, and where I continued to go regularly when I lived in the Albany area. My favorite go-to item at the track has always been the Manhattan clam chowder, which, while not the most filling offering, is definitely the tastiest. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could get a bowl of chowder and a beer for $8.00, which seemed like a bargain, given that I can get just the beer for that amount at Nationals Park here in DC. And despite a hot sauce mishap (I forgot to stir it in, making my first bite a doozy) my race-day lunch proved every bit as delicious as I had remembered.

Sliced pork, fries, and corn at Brooks Barbecue in Oneonta.
Sliced pork, fries, and corn at Brooks Barbecue in Oneonta.

Eileen and I carried on another family tradition on the way home from the track, stopping at Brooks House of Bar-B-Q in Oneonta on the way home. Their sliced pork barbecue dinner is one of my favorite meals in the world, and one that it’s lucky I live hundreds of miles from, because I would be big as a house if I could eat it as often as I wanted. They happened to have fresh corn on the cob as the vegetable of the day, which was the perfect supplement to my usual pork and fries. Yum!

Two plain slices and a Coke at Mario's in Vestal.
Two plain slices and a Coke at Mario's in Vestal.

We finished Friday as full as can be, but were ready to begin anew by lunchtime on Saturday, which we spent at Mario’s, our favorite pizzeria. There is nothing in this world quite like a slice and a Coke – especially when that slice is proper New York style. My nephew James, though born in Texas, revealed himself as a New Yorker at heart when he downed about 3/4 of a slice on his own… his very first piece of pizza.

I forgot to photograph our next two stops – the aforementioned Cider Mill, where we picked up cider and doughnuts for Sunday’s breakfast, and the (as we came to discover) former Carvel on Riverside Drive. Despite the fact that it had, in fact, become possibly the filthiest ice cream shop I have ever seen, we still got soft serve with sprinkles for a snack. We had a plan, and a little bit of dirt wasn’t going to stop us!

Lamb spiedies (from Lupo's), tomatoes, and corn at Mom's house.
Lamb spiedies (from Lupo's), tomatoes, and corn at Mom's house.

Dinner on Saturday night was at home, but partially take-out – lamb spiedies from Lupo’s, supplemented with corn on the cob, tomatoes, and summer berry pie from Lone Maple Farm.

Oof. I am feeling full again just writing all of this. And like a bit of a glutton, but really, it’s just two meals a day over three days, so not that bad, right? Right?

James makes a grab for his first spaghetti and meatballs at Little Venice in Binghamton.
James makes a grab for his first spaghetti and meatballs at Little Venice in Binghamton.

Our final stop – for lunch on Sunday – was at the Little Venice, where I think nearly every family milestone for four generations has been celebrated. Wee James had a chance to try spaghetti and meatballs for the first time, and Eileen and I both had our favorite – cheese ravioli. And, much to my surprise, I received a free gelato in exchange for my Foursquare check-in. It never occurred to me that a place that I consider to be very old-school would be so social media savvy. (I mean, I knew they had a Facebook page, but I didn’t think it went beyond that!)

I pulled out of Binghamton with a full belly – and a car containing a stash of barbecue sauce, doughnuts, cider, and frozen pasta dinners… Hooray for leftovers, and for my favorite places having packaged items that are easy for far-away fans to enjoy!

I am now considering a more aggressive workout regimen, by the way.

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4 thoughts on “Food Tour

  1. Eileen September 3, 2011 / 12:31 am

    1. I have sent Sarah pictures of my soft serve sprinkle cone & the summer berry pie – maybe she’ll consider an update? 🙂

    2. I held off on feeding James pizza specifically to establish his pizza palate with the quality pizza of Binghamton. I was so proud of him. He loved both his pizza and his spagetti. That’s my boy!

    And it was super fun sharing my food tour of home w/Sarah. If she would’ve been able to stay one more day, she would’ve added crab cake and grilled rib eye steak plus more corn & tomatoes. Yumm!!

  2. Mom September 3, 2011 / 2:43 am

    Having you two here wasn’t good for my waistline either!! But, we had FUN and, yes, friends, it did involve more than eating 😉

  3. Shannon September 3, 2011 / 12:35 pm

    I can vouch for the Albany side of things…lots of soft serve ice cream, steamers, decent pizza or chicken wings (both of which I am sure you can’t get outside of New York!)…I must have gained 10 pounds, willingly, when Sarah was here back in July. 🙂

    But to be fair, my other goal when visiting Washington DC is to eat as much ecclectic food as possible because SmAlbany does not have the dazzling array of ethnic restaurants that DC has. Some of my more interesting experiences include Mongolian BBQ, DECENT Thai and Mediterranean, and Spanish tapas. Yum!!!

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